Until very recently, everyone in the cricketing world, more specifically in India was talking about Virat Kohli. And it was understandable too. When you aren’t yet a part of the national cricket team, the only big dream that a wannabe international cricketer has is to play, at least, one Test for his country. The next big goal is to appear in a half century of Tests. And yet, here was Kohli entering his 100th Test as an Indian cricketer. Indeed, a very special occasion. Most rightly called it a momentous one.
But the same Test match that marked a century of Tests for Kohli was also the 85th for none other than Ravichandran Ashwin. How many would’ve thought at Mohali that wow, with another fifteen Tests, Ravichandran Ashwin would become only the thirteenth Indian to represent the nation in hundred Tests.
Perhaps that number will arrive for Ashwin in another two years’ time, provided he’s still in form and backs himself with the right fitness and attitude as he has all this while to mark his special occasion.
But having said that, while much of the focus was on Kohli, it was the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin that gathered something really special in the heartland of Punjab. While the left hander creamed a daddy hundred with his 175, the other all-rounder that India has amid its ranks, turned up the tempo with 6 wickets in the contest, besides making 61 from the bat.
This was a true all-round performance from a special character who’s seen perhaps a bit of everything in a career that today exceeds a decade; ups and downs, big wins and letdowns and not to forget, the ball of the century delivered in the 2014 T20 world cup.
Having said that, the conclusion of the Mohali Test once again served up a keen debate, one that has seen keen participation from all corners of Indian cricket- the utility surrounding Ravi Ashwin and whether he’s truly a great all rounder.
Interestingly, while Ashwin’s prowess with his off spinners have hardly ever been a doubt, it’s his batting that tends to suffer from patchiness that’s undermined his career. But make no mistake. The lanky Chennai Cricketer is under a 100 runs shy from touching the 3,000 run-mark.
What was extraordinary though, was that Ashwin made the Mohali contest his own by surpassing the legendary Kapil Dev’s tally of wickets in Test cricket. Where it stands now, the right-arm off spinner is on 436 wickets. It’s just a matter of time before he’ll touch the 450 wicket mark.
Castling stumps and beating batsmen in flight are but everyday occurrences in the life of Ravichandran Ashwin. And habits die hard. We all want that this habit of the exceptional matchwinner continues.
What does make Ashwin a one-of-a-kind person is that he’s a thinking cricketer. A quality that’s so preeminently Ravichandran Ashwin is that until the game reaches its final delivery, he doesn’t hold himself back and likes to attack.
The constant variations, at times speeding up the deliveries, on other occasions, taking the steam off the off spinners, the marvelousness with the off breaks, the ones delivered with a bit more flight make Ashwin an uncanny and often, difficult customer to deal with.
He earned lavish praise from ex-cricketer Parthiv Patel who had the following to say about the cricketer who epitomises never say die!
“Ashwin joined the elite list that has names like Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh. These are legends of Indian cricket and a lot of people got inspired after watching them play. We talk about batters like Tendulkar and Gavaskar but many people copied the action of Kapil, Harbhajan and Kumble. Many took up the sport because of them. Ashwin joining them is a testimony to his hard work. It took him 11 years to reach the milestone. It takes time and you got to work hard for that time. We have seen Ashwin try different things as well. He has a deep understanding of the game and he takes his time to study it.”